Penrith playmaker Jarome Luai’s teammates are optimistic about his push to be fit for the club’s preliminary final after he joined the main squad for a field session on Sunday.
But the main test for Luai, who dislocated his left shoulder in round 26, will arrive when the Panthers have an opposed session on Wednesday.
Luai received a boost in his recovery when the Panthers’ qualifying final win over the Warriors secured him an extra week.
The former NSW Blues five-eighth is now gunning to be ready for Friday night’s preliminary final against Melbourne at Sydney Olympic Park.
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Panthers centre Stephen Crichton revealed a confident one-liner Luai had fired off during his rehabilitation.
“He said if it was anyone else they’d be out for two years,” Crichton said with a smirk.
“A person like Romey is itching to get back on the field. This is all he ever loves doing, footy is in his DNA and just to be sitting on the sideline watching the boys for a few weeks, I think he’ll be pretty keen to get back out there and get the job done.”
Among the tests Luai was put through on Sunday was a series of high balls, with the premiership-winning No.6 leaping and extending his arms above his head to catch the footy.
Penrith winger and Luai’s best mate, winger Brian To’o, backed him to be right for the grand final qualifier.
“I’m actually pretty confident. Obviously he’s done the work of rehab, he’s definitely been taken care of and been putting in the hard work off the field,” To’o said.
“He’s looking pretty good and I’m pretty excited to see if he will be back or not.”
Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards was also quizzed on Luai’s preliminary final hopes.
“He won’t be out there unless he’s ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” said the reigning Clive Churchill Medal winner.
“Obviously he would know that he would be put under a bit of pressure regardless.
“I think he will be right.”
The Panthers advanced to the preliminary finals by thumping the Warriors 32-6 in a qualifying final.
The Storm set up a clash with the powerhouse club by pipping the Roosters 18-13 in a semi-final on Friday night.
Stream the NRL premiership 2023 live and free on 9Now
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